Judy, Judy, Judy…and Renee.

 

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I'm a fan of Old Hollywood. And the fact that Judy Garland's rendition of Over the Rainbow makes me cry every time I hear it was reason enough for me to see Judy, the feature film bio-pic starring Renee Zellweger.

I'm also a VERY big fan of Renee's. As Roxie Hart in the musical movie, Chicago, I thought she knocked it out of the park: she was THE triple threat: singing, dancing, acting.

And it's because of Bridget Jones's Diary that I write humorous women's fiction. (By that I mean the novel, by Helen Fielding, albeit the movie version reinforced my love of romcoms.)

I was NOT disappointed. If you go to see it, I don't think you will be, either.

Can she sing like Judy?

I'll answer that with a question: Can anyone?

What you'll appreciate about Zellweger's performance is that she captures all the gestures, the vocal inflections (Judy's resonance and vocal depth was incomparable), the timing, and the pathos of one of the greatest performers to grace the silver screen, or for that matter a live stage.

I'll be shocked if she doesn't wind the Best Actress Oscar for it.

Below is a trailer of the movie.

Garland once famously said, “If I'm a legend, then why I so lonely?” This is aptly illustrated in the movie. One of the most touching scenes in the movie is how Judy asks two fans to grab a bite to eat with her for just this very reason: with celebrity comes awe, which creates a crevice between the famous and those leading normal lives.

I saw this first hand,  when interviewing celebrities for feature articles.

Debbie Reynolds came to San Francisco, to make the movie, Mother, written, directed, and co-starring Albert Brooks. At that point, and that time in her life, movie roles had essentially dried up for her. She realized it was a great break, perhaps even a comeback role. In fact, it garnered her a Golden Globe nomination.

At the beginning of our interview, she was nervous enough that her hand was shaking as she sipped her coffee.

When she heard that, as a little boy, my son insisted on watching Singing in the Rain over and over again, she kindly replied, “Did you bring a cassette tape? I'd sign it for you.”

Silly me, I didn't even think of doing so.

By the end of the interview, she hinted that she'd like company for a meal. Again, I was so stupidly awestruck that I didn't say, “Sure, let's grab a bite.”

I've always regretted it.

If you get that opportunity, take it.

Here's to those bright lights that entertain us.

—Josie

 

As I took a shower, I looked out my window and saw large crows gathering on the rooftop…

…of the apartment building behind me. #HitchcockMoment 

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There is only one man I’d leave my husband for: 007.

Daniel Craig SkyfallOkay, maybe I wouldn't actually leave Martin. I'd come home at mealtimes.

I'm just talkin' dessert now, the amuse bouche, when I rhapsodize about James Bond…well really, the James Bond, as epitomized by Daniel Craig. He's the perfect 007 for these times.

He's so spot on in the role, that I don't even mind his girly-man routine in THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO.

Check out this new trailer for SKYFALL, the latest Bond flick, which will be out in November.

Love this line:

007: Everybody needs a hobby.

Bad Guy Javier Bardem: So, what's yours?

007: Resurrection.

Ummmmmmmmmmm.

Shaken and stirred,

–Josie

HAH-Hanging-Man-New-BlueThe Housewife Assassin's Handbook

Murder. Suspense. Sex. And some handy household tips.

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"This is a super sexy and fun read that you shouldn't miss!"
–Mary Jacobs, Bookhounds

 

 

When did the price of a movie ticket get higher than minimum wage? That answer may surprise you.

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Here's the math:

In 1958, minimum wage was $1.00, and the average cost of a movie ticket was 68 cents.

By 1967, minimum wage had increased to $1.40, wherease movie tickets were then $1.22.

By1977, minimum wage was now $2.30, and t a movie ticket cost $2.23.

In 1981, minim wage rose to $3.35, while ticket prices were $2.78.

Okay, now here's where it gets interesting…

While in 1989 minimum wage was still only $3.35, ticket prices leaped to $3.99 (!!!)

Figures as of 2010 are $7.25 for the minimum wage, and $7.89 for a movie ticket.

Today, minimum wage is still $7.25. But when you're paying $11.75 for a full-price movie ticket, it better be one helluva flick.

 Don't get me started on the cost of food in a movie theater.

Hold the popcorn,

— Josie

   

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The Housewife Asassin's Handbook

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 "This is a super sex and fun read that you shouldn't miss! How do I love this book, let me count the ways: (1) a kick ass woman who can literally kick ass as well as cook and clean. Donna gives a whole new meaning to "taking out the trash". (2) The book is set around Los Angeles, mostly in a gated community suspiciously like Coto de Caza, full of housewives that could be "real" and for the setting along, a big giant WIN! (3) Super sarcasm, snarky dialogue and making fun of all that is wrong in the OC, politics, as well as current world affairs." — Mary Jacobs, Book Hounds Reviews

 

 

 

* Federal Minimum Wage Rates 1955-2011 (Some states pay out higher than the minimum, by as much as a $1.00)

**National Association of Theater Owners

A Sneak Peek AT THE GREAT GATSBY

  

F. Scott Fitzgerald is one of my all-time favorite authors. His words are prose as poetry, and from that standpoint, The Great Gatsby is considered is best work (albeit I'm partial to the book he was still writing upon his death, The Last Tycoon.

If the film is as good as the trailer, Baz Luhrmann, the director of the cinematic musical Moulin Rouge (talk about a fully encompassing cinematic experience, despite the tongue-in-cheek pop music mashup) may very well consider this his masterwork.

The movie stars Leonardo Di Caprio, Carey Mulligan, Tobey Maguire, and the usually funny Isla Fisher in a very serious role. Oscar nods all around.

Depicting the roaring twenties the way Fitzgerald wrote about it (or, I should say fantasized about it) does the author proud.

 

— Josie

 

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The Housewife Asassin's Handbook

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"You've got a book that won't be putdown – so go pick it up now!"  — Cat's Thoughts
"As a housewife myself, this book was a fantastic escape that had me dreaming "if only" the whole way through. The book doesn't take itself too seriously, which makes for the perfect combination of mystery and humor…" –Curled Up with a Good Book and a Cup of Tea

 

Another reason to read TRUE HOLLYWOOD LIES, My red carpet red hot read

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The stars. The scandals. The sex.
 
You'll find it all in my red hot red carpet read, True Hollywood Lies.
And that's not all…

Every day between now and February 26, 2012 — the evening of the event — I'll be giving away digital copies of True Hollywood Lies, gifted from Amazon.com
All you  have to do is read the excerpt, then email back to me at MailFromJosie@gmail.com with the correct answer to the question posed.
 
Daily winners will be announced by noon the following day, on my Twitter feed and my Facebook Fan and personal pages!
Even if you don't win that day's prize,all correct entries will be held over for the grand prize drawing of a $25 Amazon gift card.
 
Contest Deadline: Midnight PT, February 26, 2012.

eBook winners will be announced daily.

Grand prize winner will be announced by noon Mon February 27, 2012.
BONUS POINTS for putting up a review on

Amazon.com (1 bonus point)
BN.com (1 bonus point)
GoodReads.com (1 bonus point)

 
I'll see you on the red carpet!
 –Josie

  TrueHollywood LiesDiversion Books/ ISBN# 13: 9780984515196
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"…The tone is confessional, the writing laced with venomous humor…"
–The Wall Street Journal

"Brown captures the humor of working for a megalomaniac…[A] well-paced, entertaining story." –Publishers Weekly

"A fine piece of literary work." –New York Post, Page Six

May 2012 be the year of the (Ryan) Gosling.

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As if 2011 wasn't?

Three high-profile, well received movies in one year (four, if you remember that Blue Valentine was a limited release last Christmas) and another three on the way

Can it by the year of the Gosling, two years in a row?

Of all the young turks in film today, Ryan Gosling has the depth and breadth and height (at 6'1")  that merits a long-lived and celebrated career.

He is 3D cinematic star power, no CGI needed.

If you wanted to see a man who can lose a woman because he loves her too much, and for all the wrong reasons, as he did in Blue Valentine, go to Gosling.

If you want a tough guy with a soft center who can make a movie so much more than mayhem and violence like Drive might have been without him, go to Gosling.

If you want an actor who embodies a player like the one he played in Crazy, Stupid Love, but then can turn the role on its head by showing that he lost his soul when he broke his heart, go to Gosling.

If you want a guy who can play a cocky political operative yet be ethical and still be believable, as he was in Ides of March–AND hold his own against George Clooney–

You got it: go to Gosling.

Yup. Time to change the Chinese calendar.

I would so enjoy looking down onto a placemat with that face on it.

Yum yum yum,

— Josie

 

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Time to party like it’s 1961

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Some day, I'll throw a party like Audrey Hepburn.

You know the kind. Other than that iconic image in Breakfast at Tiffany's,  of her walking down an empty Fifth Avenue too early on a Sunday morning, just staring into the glitziest bling shop in the world, to my mind the very best dialogue in that movie took place in that scene in which the whole world shows up to party in her tiny apartment: stews and runway models, aging lotharios, Hollywood agents, Brazilian playboys, and on-the-make Mad men wearing skinny ties. One guy even has an eye patch, and it isn't a Halloween party. Go figure.

The booze is flowing, the bon mots are flying. And Audrey is magnetic.

We should all be Audrey, at least once in our lives, even if our cigarette holder only blows bubbles.

Of course hers is really lit, which is why, in such a confined space, some woman's hat catches on fire.

My last "big" party was formal– that is to say, filled with too many people not willing to let their hair down, let alone go up in flames. 

That's alright. I've made a few faus pax myself: like the time half the guests ended up in the hospital with food poisoning.

This is why I'm not the chef in our family.

But I'm still a party animal.

Here's wishing you a happy and healthy 2012,

— Josie

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Buy TRUE HOLLYWOOD LIES in Amazon!

Right now, #9 in Books/Literature & Fiction/Comic

"…The tone is confessional, the writing laced with venomous humor…"
–The Wall Street Journal

"Brown captures the humor of working for a megalomaniac…[A] well-paced, entertaining story." –Publishers Weekly

"A fine piece of literary work." –New York Post, Page Six

"Josie Brown does an outstanding job capturing the glitz and glamour of Hollywood living yet illuminating the stark loneliness present beneath the façade.  Filled with good-natured humor and witty repartee…"
–Romance Reader's Connection

 

NaNoWriMo Tip #25: Do you really need a literary agent? Maybe. Here’s when.

Ari Gold

Now that National Novel Writing Month is almost over and your novel seems so real to you (50,000 words will do that, right?) you must also be thinking about how your book will find readers.

Traditionally, you'd be tossed onto a publishing editor's slush pile and pray to be discovered. 

With the shrinking of publishing house staffs, that slush pile is now the domain of the literary agent.

But many an author will ask: are agents still necessary in a day and age of independent book publishing? 

I've been published both ways, and my thought is this:

Yes.

Many of the authors I know feel this way, too. Like me, they have their feet in both worlds: they still sell to “New York” (where most of the major publishing houses have their offices) but they also independently publish their solely-owned backlists, or novels that have never found homes, or a variety of experimental projects.

Frankly, it’s the best of both worlds.

Why? Because to publishing houses, you are only as good as the sales of your last book. I’ve known previously best-selling authors who have been kicked to the curb by their publishing houses, just because their sales numbers fell short of what they had done two years before.

Is it fair to blame the author? I don’t think so, considering all the marketing factors that are out of their control. Most don’t get any say-so on their covers. And the publishing industry isn’t as progressive as other industries in creating brands for their authors – let alone developing brand awareness with key target audiences. Rather, they have relied on a narrow retail channel (big chain bookstores for most books; and independent bookstores for a smaller, select group of books).

And sadly, they have been slow to build awareness to their own brands: their name, and the various imprints within their houses.

In the larger marketplace of the Internet, branding and name awareness is key. Knowing your audience and reaching it will make or break a brand.

Every author is a brand. You are the biggest cheerleader for your brand and your manuscript.

But no writer is an island. It takes a village to sell a book: you (to write it) an agent (to sell it) and an editor, or producer, or whoever to buy it, and (prayerfully) market it properly—

So that you sell lots of copies to readers.

Which brings up the question of the day: what is the role of the agent in this brave new world?

Here’s how I see it:

First and foremost, your agent will be making your deals with publishing houses. 
Doing so is an agent's bread and butter. They work on commission. The more sales they make – and the more costly the acquisition – the happier they and their clients will be. It is also the best way for them to grow their own reputations.

Agents know what editors are looking for.
Agents know what genres are aging out, and which genres are getting hot (again). For example, if you write westerns, you’re probably hitting the reader zeitgeist just about…

NOW.

Well, guess what? Even if you were bought today, your book wouldn’t be hitting the bookshelves for another eighteen months —  just when you’re genre is, hopefully, due to be hot again.

Your agent will have great insights on what will make your manuscript even stronger.
The best agents read what you write, and give copious notes on how to make it stronger. Why? Because you don't need a yes man. You need a partner in selling your book to an editor.  

Your agent will be making your deals with other media platforms.
The explosion of television networks is a great opportunity for authors. Even if your agent hasn’t sold you to a publisher, s/he may be able to get you in the hands of a producer who is actively seeking to adapt books for film or TV. In fact, most literary agents are smart enough to network and co-venture with talent agents who work in the fields of movies and television.

Here's a perfect example: my wonderful literary agent, Holly Root, thought my novels would translate well in other media. There were several talent agencies — and agents within those agencies — she could have paired me with. She felt the best match was CAA. She was right. My agent there was diligent in sending my novels out to producers whom he felt would see their potential. A year and two months after my novel, Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives, hit bookshelves, it was optioned by movie and television producer Jerry Bruckheimer, who promptly pitched it to ABC television as a dramatic series. It will be hitting the airwaves next year. That is pretty quick turnaround. Some novels take years to get that kind of notice from Hollywood. 

A great agent is a great sales person. S/he will always be looking for opportunities to sell your book. And your next. And your next. 

As technology forces the world of publishing to change, the role of the agent will change as well, too. The services they provide their clients will have to get broader. My guess is that these services will include all other things that help expand brands in other industries: name awareness (promotion) and  product positioning. 

So how do you get an agent? That will be tomorrow’s post…

(c) 2011 Josie Brown. All rights reserved.

Picture: You may not want ENTOURAGE'S Ari Gold as your agent, but your literary agent might co-agent with someone like Ari who can help you sell  your manuscript into television or the movies. It's the way we live now.

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READ YESTERDAY'S TIP HERE…

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I've got a question for you: Have you already tried to get an agent? How did that go?

— Josie

 

10 very broad hints that Sarah Jessica Parker is wearing the wrong hat…

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Ya gotta love Sarah Jessica Parker. Not only is she the consumate fashionista, she is also too often a much better actress than the roles she chooses.

Case in point: State and Main

All the more reason to wince at her latest choice in le chapeau, which she wore while wow'ing crowds down under.

Not that I'm any style maven. In fact, I've made a few fashion missteps myself. (Full disclosure: I've been known to wear shoes from different pairs. That's what happens when all your shoes are black flats.)

That said, I would counsel Ms. Parker thusly:

Dear Ms. Parker,

(Can I call you Sarah Jessica? How about SJ? …oh, never mind! How 'bout I just call you a cab?)

You know you're wearing the wrong hat when:

1. You can be mistaken for the Wicked Witch of the West.

2. You've been invited to tea by Johnny Depp — and he's dressed as the Mad Hatter.

3. Your neck starts to hurt because of it.

4. Walls jump up out of nowhere, and smack you on the nose.

5. People on the street yell out: "Gaga! Can I have your autograph?"

6. Bees mistake it for their hive.

7. Even the posh crush attending Aston is giggling and pointing.

8. It is drawing more attention to you than your latest film.

9. Your kids won't hug you because they are scared of you.

10. Your doorman gently reminds you that Halloween is over.

(c) 2011 Josie Brown. All Rights Reserved

Just sayin',

— Josie

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Trailer Smash: Sandra Bullock Throws a Touchdown with THE BLIND SIDE

BlindSide I'm late to the party, but that doesn't mean I can't wear the biggest lampshade in the room when it comes to THE BLIND SIDE, Sandra Bullock's new movie.

I don't think there is a parent who's heart won't heave at this story: "Big Mike," Michael Oher, is a  homeless kid who is given an opportunity to get out of a Memphis, Tennessee ghetto on a scholarship to private prep school, and rises to prominence as a left tackle for the Ole Miss football team before becoming the current left tackle for the Baltimore Ravens.

The story revolves around his life as a homeless student: his teachers and the faculty don't know is that he has no place to live. His potential, seen by one teacher, is obscured to everyone else because he has never learned the skills to study.

A couple with children at the school — Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy — take Micheal under their wing, moving him into their home and raising him. Bullock's character, the glossy brittle Leigh Anne, is a Steel Magnolia with a Moonpie-marshmallow middle: she takes no guff from anyone, be it Michael's football coach or the gangstas in Micheal's former 'hood.

I grew up in the South and know women many like Leigh Anne. They are colorblind, and they embody the term "right makes might." Social dictates don't stand a chance against what they know to be their Christian duty . . .

And we are all the better because if it.

One of the final scenes in the movie is a voice over in which Leigh Anne talks about those headlines we've all see: about other boys, just as talented as Michael, whose lives have been cut short by a bullet…

Because they weren't as lucky.

No one was there to help them out of their ghetto.

Sound familiar?

If only we all had Leigh Anne's gumption: to take just one lonely, lost child into our care, and help them flourish.


—Josie


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 Josie' s Next Book: Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives

Simon & Schuster/Downtown Press

(ISBN: 9781439173176)

Look for it in bookstores June 1, 2010

Pre-Order at any of the bookstore links in my sidebar…